A week ago ended the first edition of the International Film Music Festival of Seville – FIMUCS, which organized by the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla – ROSS, Loyola University, the promoter Sevilla Film Orchestra, and SoundTrackFest, offered 2 concerts and 6 conferences, with the 11 guest composers.
Our collaborator Sergio Hardasmal, offers us here a complete and detailed article of FIMUCS, exclusively for SoundTrackFest.
Seville has always had a special flavor, not only because of its popular traditions, but also because of the presence of great film music composers there over the last decades. Great initiatives that motivated the presence of renown musicians such as Jerry Goldsmith, Bill Conti, Howard Shore, or Bruce Broughton, among many others.
No wonder that film music fans around, who have always kept a fond memory of this great city as a memorable meeting point for those who love soundtracks and now, due to the start of FIMUCS, will find a new reason to return to the vicinity of the Torre del Oro monument in Seville.
FIMUCS, the 1st International Film Music Festival of Seville, is born, and it has done so with the support of various institutions and enthusiasts of the art of audiovisual composition. And as it usually happens in this type of initiatives, the beginnings are not easy. The date initially planned was March 2021, although due to the pandemic we had to wait patiently until this November to witness the start of the event.
For a few days Seville has wrapped a good number of Spanish composers along with an attractive tribute to the two 2020 Princess of Asturias Awards for the Arts: John Williams and Ennio Morricone. Therefore, the offer of FIMUCS has consisted of two concerts in which the attraction of international stars has been combined with the vindication of local artists, those who fulfill standards of enormous quality but who deserve greater recognition than they actually enjoy within our own borders.
For this reason, the fact that the programs of the concerts have been established in a peculiar way may attract the attention of many: with a first Spanish block in both cases, giving way then to the part centered on the two international stars already mentioned.
But FIMUCS wanted to go beyond the programming of the two attractive symphonic concerts: during the short duration of the festival, educational activities of enormous interest have been organized, both for students and for the general public. These included a series of master classes and round tables focused on the composition and production of music for film and television.
The first concert of the two offered by FIMUCS, held at the Cartuja Center Cite auditorium, was attended by an attractive lineup of guests, some of them authors of the Spanish pieces included in this concert, others related in the program of the next one. Of particular note was the absence of Arturo Cardelús, currently living in the United States, whose piece “The Dark Passenger” set a high bar from the beginning. The Spanish part of the event was completed with pieces by Sevillian Pablo Cervantes (“Asesinos inocentes” and “Tierras solares”), Luis Ivars (suite from “Tabarka”), Pascal Gaigne (“Le cou de la girafe” and “L’Enfant debout”) and Sergio Moure de Oteyza (“Extinction” and “Seis hermanas”), all of them present in the hall.
In front of the direction of the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, it has been a luxury to have a great Marc Timón, a talented composer who also should be cheered, although certain sections of the musical formation would not always be up to par, despite finally resulting in a more than efficient work as a whole. As a possible weak point of the evening we could also add the not quite adequate acoustics of the Cartuja Center Cite with a necessary amplification to try to optimize the sound. In spite of everything, the concert would be a clear enjoyment for those present, both with regard to the national pieces, of varied themes, as well as the selection of John Williams, consisting of some themes that are not strange in concert, but also with the presence of some less typical ones.
The accentuated minimalist sound of Pascal Gaigne found an interesting counterpoint in the thriller themes of Sergio Moure de Oteyza, Arturo Cardelús, and Pablo Cervantes, although the luminosity of other radically opposite pieces would serve to stimulate the audience even more through a necessary variety of registers. It will be curious to know that the suite of “Tabarka” by Luis Ivars, presented for the first time on the 25th anniversary of the film, had to be rescued by the author himself, who had to face a whole work of musical archeology for the reconstruction of the score. In conclusion, the Spanish part of the film had the most varied sound register, with the beauty of “Tabarka” or the lighter tone of “Seis hermanas”, as opposed to the sound of tension of the aforementioned pieces or that of the refined sound for which Pascal Gaigne has been so acclaimed.
Williams’ selection could be predictable in terms of “Jurassic Park”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” or “Jaws”, although the addition of “Angela’s Ashes”, “Memoirs of a Geisha” and the theme “The Mission” for NBC, would be the ideal stimulus in order to separate more from the most popular themes of the American composer.
At all times the audience showed an enormous warmth in their applause, something that would be even more evident after each of the pieces added to the official program, motivating even greater ovations. And both the famous “Imperial March” associated with Darth Vader and a brilliant tribute piece to Williams composed by Timon himself, were undoubtedly a very appropriate choice to close the evening.
The first day of presentations, held on Friday morning, consisted of three proposals: “Hollywood vs. Europe: Two styles of film music production”, “Composers’ copyrights in Spain and Europe”, and “The composition of film music”, moderated by Gorka Oteiza, Francisco Cuadrado, and Marc Timón respectively.
In “Hollywood vs. Europe: Two styles of film music production“, Sergio Moure de Oteyza and Arturo Cardelús enlightened the audience about the differences and similarities in their work from both geographical locations. Cardelús, present via videoconference from Alaska, provided a very valuable point of view, as did Moure. It was interesting to see firsthand how different they can be, both the way of working and the conditions in general, including the economic ones. From the conditions of the contracts and the way to access a project, to the cost of recording sessions depending on which orchestras and their location, the way composers are classified according to where they work or the importance of having an agent, among other aspects. A clarifying presentation for everyone, both music students aspiring to work in audiovisuals, as well as soundtrack enthusiasts.
In “Composers’ copyrights in Spain and Europe“, Luis Ivars and Pablo Cervantes, both with a huge experience in composition and legal issues related to intellectual property, exposed the problems faced by musical artists in our country, being deeply knowledgeable about the intricacies of the industry and copyright management companies. It is clear after attending the conference that there is a long way to go and much to do to safeguard the rights of artists, especially with regard to how to deal with large audiovisual platforms so in vogue at the moment.
The morning would end in a special way thanks to “The composition of film music“, a luxury conference with a key composer of our cinema: Pascal Gaigne. The French-born author revealed the keys to his work with an enormous sympathy and a great show of humanity, transmitting his point of view and opinion about the profession he loves. Enough anecdotes and relevant information for the audience, which only increased the passion for the artist’s work, clearly one of the most complete in Spanish cinema, consisting of about 120 compositions.
The second date with the concert hall had as its main protagonist the great Ennio Morricone, again with the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, now conducted by Iván Palomares, a great connoisseur of the work of the Roman maestro and a Goya finalist composer for the excellent music for “Up Among the Stars”.
An excellent piece by Palomares himself served to start the concert (“The Calling”), although the rest of the Spanish works on the program would be, as on the previous night, of different styles. From the lively animation of Manel Gil-Inglada (“Hullabaloo” and “Dogtanian & the Three Muskehounds”), the drama of Manel Santisteban (“Three steps above heaven”), the tragicomedy of Vanessa Garde (“Rosa’s Wedding”), to the thriller of Iván Martínez Lacámara (“Money Heist”) and Zacarías Martínez de la Riva (“Below Zero”), made it clear that all these Spanish composers are of a very high quality and should be followed closely.
The highlight of the evening would be the series of pieces composed by Ennio Morricone, starting with that curious collaboration for Pedro Almodóvar for “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” and counting right after with the participation of the soprano Susana Casas García de la Galana and the harmonica of Diego Villegas Gómez. Both soloists were prominent in the suite of songs from “Once Upon a Time in the West”, although the soprano also took part in “Once upon a time in America”, two of the films chosen for Morricone’s part that caused the loudest ovations.
The material belonging to the famous “The Mission” was not left behind either, providing the relaxed moment with the obvious comedy of the theme chosen from the score of “Malena”. To close the concert, the final titles of “The Untouchables” were a great choice.
But as expected, the standing ovations from the audience were rewarded with a reprise of “ Once Upon a Time in the West“, where the virtuosity of Diego Villegas Gómez‘s harmonica was confirmed. The other encore of the evening was dedicated both to John Williams and to film music in general, as Iván Palomares presented a suite of famous themes from the history of cinema that Williams himself arranged and conducted during the 2002 Oscars ceremony. A beautiful finale consisting of a brilliant chain of short notes of mythical themes by authors such as Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, James Horner, Elmer Bernstein, Randy Newman, Maurice Jarre, Bernard Herrmann, or Henry Mancini, among many others and including, as it could not be otherwise, Williams himself. A perfect closing for a brilliant and very well received evening.
The second day of lectures was the final closure of the event. The proposal consisted of the following talks: “Composing of music for animation“, “The process of film music production“, and “Music for TV series“, moderated by Gorka Oteiza and Francisco Cuadrado.
In “Composing music for animation“, Zacarías Martínez de la Riva and Manel Gil-Inglada described their approach to animation projects, illustrating their interventions with sample videos and thus facilitating understanding of the creative process in this genre, which is certainly laborious compared to live-action. Martínez de la Riva presented the case of the first installments of the film series of the character Tadeo Jones, of which he is currently working on the third part. On his side, Gil-Inglada shared his experience with an independent project still unfinished entitled “Hullabaloo”, as well as with “Dogtanian & the Three Muskehounds“, a film already released and conceived from the famous TV series.
In “The process of film music production“, both Vanessa Garde and Iván Palomares were on the same wavelength regarding the difficulties and casuistry faced by professionals in audiovisual composition, touching on a thousand and one factors related to their work. It was a particularly revealing lecture for the students attending, as it highlighted the importance of a number of aspects that may sometimes be ignored by those who aspire to devote themselves to the profession: from the mere task of the composer’s assistant, an important way to make their way in this profession, as well as how to handle the budget, communication with producers, etc.
To conclude, “Music for TV series“, an interesting presentation by Manel Santisteban and Iván Martínez Lacámara, both with extensive experience behind them both separately and in alliance in the authorship of music such as the celebrated “Money Heist“. Santisteban put the audience in the picture by revealing his musical origins and his time in several bands and groups, such as La década prodigiosa, as well as his subsequent background. Lacámara, on the other hand, brought to the table his experience up to the beginning of his collaboration with Santisteban. Both closed FIMUCS in an intervention not without sympathy, revealing the way they work as a team, the means they have and the way they have had to face the composition of the music for the seasons of a successful series that, logically, has been clearly evolving as it has progressed.
There has been some controversy about the programming of the concerts, as well as about the presence of pieces by Spanish composers alongside those of international stars of the caliber of John Williams and Ennio Morricone. Many will object that they would have preferred that the concerts should have focused exclusively on the works of each of the latter. But FIMUCS is born with the aim of highlighting the value of our artists. And beyond Alberto Iglesias, Roque Baños or José Nieto, our cinematography can be proud of an enormous quality that is not always sufficiently taken into account.
In this sense, the organization of FIMUCS has risked a lot, but whoever does not risk, does not win. And the one who wins by taking risks, even though may win less, does so with greater merit. I believe that the proposal of such concerts is valid, being desirable in future editions to include the participation of many other talents from here, while inviting active international composers, provided that the pandemic allows it, of course.
It can be said that the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla has been up to the task, with an important merit of the brilliant direction of Marc Timón and Ivan Palomares, despite the fact that the acoustics of Cartuja Center Cite are perhaps not the most appropriate. In both concerts the capacity has known a fairly good occupation, although in future editions, prepared in other circumstances and with better situation with respect to the pandemic, clearly can become much higher.
Regarding the master classes and lectures, the attendance has been overwhelming. With the support of Loyola University, music students have filled most of the seats in the two morning sessions (around 80-100 participants), although it would be desirable to schedule one more day and structure the interventions in pairs, thus giving more time for the rounds of questions and a more comfortable maneuver for all those interested.
The enormous talent of the Spanish composers in attendance (the one of Williams and Morricone no longer needs to be demonstrated) has been shown. It is also evident the great humanity and accessibility of all these artists invited to FIMUCS, always grateful for the reception that their works have had during these days in Seville. If the goal of the organization was to achieve this connection with the public, then we can clearly qualify this first edition as a true success.
Article by Sergio Hardasmal
Pictures by Rafa Melgar & Gorka Oteiza